Elon Musk To File “Thermonuclear Lawsuit” As More Advertisers Leave X

Elon Musk To File “Thermonuclear Lawsuit” As More Advertisers Leave X

Elon Musk, owner of X the site formerly known as Twitter, has said that the company will issue a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against Media Matters for America.

Media Matters is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to recording and correcting conservative misinformation in the press. The group alleged Musk praised an antisemitic conspiracy theory and the site had continued to place advertisements next to racist user posts.

The debacle started when Media Matters told IBM that the platform placed its ads next to content promoting Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. IBM subsequently pulled its ad dollars. Media Matters then reported finding ads for Amazon, NBA Mexico, NBCUniversal Catalyst, Action Network, and Club for Growth next to white nationalist hashtags such as “KeepEuropeWhite,” “white pride,” and “WLM” (“White Lives Matter”).

Media Matters then reported on the following exchange between Musk and a user on X.

Then, the advertising exodus happens. As far as we know at the moment, Apple, Lionsgate, the European Commission, Disney, Paramount Global and Warner Bros have all stopped advertising on X. Apple, which spent around US$100 million (around AU$150 million) per year on X advertising had passed on other advertising boycotts of the platform.

“IBM has zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination and we have immediately suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation,” said a statement from the IT firm.

The European Commission said it was pausing ads due to “an alarming increase in disinformation and hate speech” on the platform.

So, that lawsuit. On 18 November, Musk posted a statement that Media Matters had “completely misrepresented the real user experience on X” as part of its campaign to “undermine freedom of speech and mislead advertisers”.

Musk then alleged that Media Matters “created an alternate account and curated the posts and advertising on the account’s timeline to misinform advertisers about the placement of their posts” before adding “These contrived user experiences could be applied to any platform”.

Musk also said that the organisation “repeatedly refreshed their timelines to find a rare instance of ads serving next to the content they follow. Our logs indicate that they forced a scenario resulting in 13 times the number of ads served compared to the media ads served to an X user”.

Media Matters said in a statement that “Musk admitted the ads at issue ran alongside the pro-Nazi content we identified. If he does sue us, we will win”.

And that, of course, was true. Nowhere in Musk’s statement did he deny that the adverts appeared next to Nazi-sympathising content, simply that Media Matters gamed the system.

Right-wingers on the platform have subsequently jumped at the chance to back Musk and X with ad dollars of their own. conservative Christian news The Babylon Bee said that it would spend US$250,000 on advertising on X (around AU$385,000).

Media Matters was not alone in its criticism of Musk’s X. The Tech Transparency project produced a report last week showing that white supremacists with X Premium accounts were using the conflict between Israel and Hamas to “amplify antisemitism, Islamophobia, and broader anti-immigrant hate narratives on the platform”. X’s approach to verification gives paying members priority in replies to tweets and in users’ non-following feeds.

But the problems don’t stop there for Musk. On Friday, US President Joe Biden branded Musk’s tweets “abhorrent”. A later White House statement said, “We condemn this abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate in the strongest terms, which runs against our core values as Americans. It is unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of antisemitism in American history at any time, let alone one month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust”.

Elon Musk, however, is no stranger to high-profile court dealings. He is currently under investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission on whether he broke federal law when he acquired Twitter last year and he is also suing Meta over the likeness between Threads and X.

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